God

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Brahma is the creator god in Hinduism. Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu are the most important Hindu gods. This image shows Brahma on a temple wall.

Abrahamic religions say that there is a supernatural being called God. Hinduism says there is more than one god. Theists believe that God created everything that exists.[1] In most religions, God is believed to be immortal (cannot die), and to have powers to control nature far beyond the powers of humans.

The belief that there is at least one god is usually called theism. People who reject belief that any deities exist are called atheists. Agnostics think we cannot know for sure whether any deities exist, but still might (or might not) believe at least one deity exists. People who believe in a god but not in religion are called deists. People who believe that the definition of "God" should be defined before taking a theological position are ignostic.

In some religions there are many gods. This is called polytheism. In other religions, there is only one, which is called monotheism. In polytheism the word "gods" is usually written in lowercase letters. God is usually written with an uppercase letter when only one god is believed to exist. Some polytheists also use uppercase when talking about their most important god.

Does God exist?[change | edit source]

Many people have asked themselves if God exists. Philosophers, theologians and others have tried to prove that it exists, others have tried to show that it does not exist. In philosophical terminology, such arguments are about the epistemology of the ontology of God. The debate exists mainly in philosophy since science does not address whether or not supernatural things exist.

There are many philosophical issues with the existence of God. Some definitions of God are not specific.[2] Arguments for the existence of God typically include metaphysical, empirical, inductive, and subjective types. Some theories are built around holes in evolutionary theory, as well as order and complexity in the world. Arguments against the existence of God typically include empirical, deductive, and inductive arguments. Conclusions sometimes include: "God does not exist" (strong atheism); "God almost certainly does not exist"[3] (de facto atheism); "no one knows whether God exists" (agnosticism); "God exists, but this cannot be proven or disproven" (deism or theism); and "God exists and this can be proven" (theism). There are many variations on these positions, and sometimes different names for some of them. For example, the position "God exists and this can be proven" is sometimes called "gnostic theism" or "strong theism".

Names[change | edit source]

There are different names for God in different religions. Some examples are Allah in Islam, Yahweh or Elohim in Judaism, Baha in Baha'i Faith, Waheguru in Sikhism, and Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism.

Believing in God[change | edit source]

The percentage of people in European countries who said in 2005 that they "believe there is a God". Countries with Eastern Orthodox (i.e.: Greece, Romania, etc.) or Muslim (Turkey) majorities tend to poll highest.

In the year 2000, approximately 53% of the world's population were part of one of the three main Abrahamic religions (33% Christian, 20% Islam, less than 1% Judaism), 6% with Buddhism, 13% with Hinduism, 6% with traditional Chinese religion, 7% with various other religions, and less than 15% as non-religious. Most of these religious beliefs involve God or gods.[4]

God in the Abrahamic religions[change | edit source]

Abrahamic religions are very popular monotheistic ones. Well-known Abrahamic religions include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Monotheistic means the people in these religions believe there is only one God. The name of God is usually not allowed to be said in Judaism, but some Jews today call him YHWH (Yahweh) or Jehovah. Muslims say the word Allah, which is the Arabic word for "The God."

Believers in the Abrahamic religions (except Islamic believers) believe that God has created human beings in his image, but this idea is rarely taken literally. The idea of an old man with a beard has been used in art since the Renaissance, but is not what most monotheists actually believe he looks like.

God in Christianity[change | edit source]

The Christian Bible talks about God in different ways. Christians say that the Old Testament talks about "God the Father". The New Testament is about Jesus, or "God the Son". Many Christians also believe that Jesus was God's incarnation on earth. Christians consider the Holy Spirit to be God as well.

In the New Testament, there are three beings who are said to be God in different forms: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (also known as the Holy Ghost). This is called the Holy Trinity by most people who believe in it. Although the word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, the word used for God in chapter one of Genesis is plural, and the words ' in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit' are used in the New Testament, (e.g. Matthew 28:19) Another word that most Christians believe means the same thing as "Trinity" is Godhead.

Some believe that Jesus was just a man that talked about God.Members of the Unitarian Church have these beliefs.

Christians believe that God turned into a man named Jesus, and came to Earth to save everyone from sin. When Jesus prayed and talked to God, he called him "Father," and taught others to do the same.

God in Eastern religions[change | edit source]

In Hinduism, there is only one God, named Brahman, but Brahman is said to have taken on many different incarnations. Some of these are Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Shiva, Kali, Parvati, and Durga. To many outsiders, the worship of God's different incarnations is considered to be the worship of many gods. However, it is really only the worship of one God in different ways.

Some Hindus also believe that the spirit of God lives in everyone. This idea is called Advaita Vedanta, which is the Hindu term for Monism.

Religions like Buddhism and Confucianism involve the worship of many gods, or sometimes no gods at all.

God in Western philosophy[change | edit source]

Philosophers can talk about God or god; sometimes they talk about a specific god, but other times they are just talking about the idea of god.

One of the earliest Western philosophers to write about God in a monotheistic way was the Greek Aristotle, who describes god as the Supreme Cause. Aristotle saw God as a being that makes everything happen, but is not influenced by anything else.

There are also some philosophical problems with God. One of them is called God paradox. It is a question about whether (an omnipotent) God can make a mountain that is so heavy he cannot lift it.

Related pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

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  1. Swinburne, R.G. (1995), "God", in Honderich, Ted, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford University Press, "...most philosophical theologians... have generally regarded him as a personal being, bodiless, omnipresent, creator and sustainer of any universe there may be, perfectly free, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, and a source of moral obligation; who exists eternally and necessarily...".
  2. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2002/entries/omnipotence/
  3. Dawkins, Richard. "Why There Almost Certainly Is No God". The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-dawkins/why-there-almost-certainl_b_32164.html. Retrieved 2007-01-10.
  4. National Geographic Family Reference Atlas of the World p. 49